US Department of State Daily Press Briefing #76: Tuesday, 5/7/91

Boucher Source: State Department Deputy Spokesman Richard Boucher Description: 12:44 PM, Washington, DC Date: May 7, 19915/7/91 Category: Briefings Region: MidEast/North Africa Country: Iraq, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Czechoslovakia (former), Yugoslavia (former), Lebanon, USSR (former) Subject: Regional/Civil Unrest, Development/Relief Aid, Refugees, Trade/Economics, Democratization, State Department, Security Assistance and Sales, Science/Technology (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED) MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here. (Laughter) Let me start off a little -- Q If you lie about that, you'd lie about anything. (Laughter) MR. BOUCHER: What a good time we have with each other.

[Iraq: Update on Refugees]

I thought I'd start off giving you the highlights of things that I noticed in our update on the refugee situation. It seems to have changed. I'll give you some more information on things you've asked about before. We'll try to pull up the full rundown for you and put it up after the briefing. One of the things we talked yesterday about was the movement of people out of the refugee camps back to their homes. In order to facilitate this movement of refugees back to their homes, the combined task force has established way stations along main routes from the camps. The way stations supply water, food, medical aid, automobile fuel, tow ropes, and auto repair items. As of May 6, ten way stations had been established. I have the names of the 10 places that they're at but I'm not going to try to pronounce them. The question of cholera has been discussed. Medical personnel working in the camps on the Turkey-Iraq border continue to report that cholera has not become a major problem. However, the presence of cholera bacteria has been identified at the camp at Cukurca which has a population of 120,000 people. A hundred and thirty refugees have been isolated from the rest of the population and are being treated for cholera systems with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and oral rehydration. Family members are also being screened and treated as required. We also have a measles vaccination program. Vaccinations are being conducted at several of the camps along the Turkey-Iraq border and in the temporary relief village at Zakhu. As of May 6, over 3,500 children had been immunized for measles. This week, the immunization program will be extened to other camps, and we expect that nearly 92,000 children will be immunized under the program. Yesterday, I was asked if we had information on refugees leaving the Iraq-Iran border to head home. We have some reports from the International Commission of the Red Cross that thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled to Iran have begun to return to Iraq. They report that the return appears to be well organized. But other than saying that thousands are involved, I don't have any specific information for you concerning the actual numbers of people. Q The numbers that you gave yesterday of the refugees coming back from the Turkish border area and the number that still remain differ quite sharply from what the General was briefing in the area itself. He said that as many as 440,000 still were in the border area, inside Turkey and just inside Iraq. Your numbers were much lower than that. Can you account for the discrepancy? MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. Maybe there's some definition of what we mean by the "near border area." Before coming in here, I saw some Defense Department numbers that were in the 335,000 range. I think I've used 320. Q You expressed concern -- MR. BOUCHER: We're in a situation now where a lot of people are moving, and it's much more difficult, I think, to give you precise numbers. There are a lot of people in camps that are being cared for. Of course, those are the easiest to count. The rest of the populations on the move tend to be estimates at this point. Q You also expressed concern that the movement was not nearly fast enough and that they were trying to find ways to accelerate it with the on-coming summer season. Is that your characterization of "not nearly fast enough?" MR. BOUCHER: I'm aware of the concerns about the summer season, particularly the problem that water sources in the mountains might dry up. So this whole effort at establishing centers, whether the camp in Turkey or the station at Zakhu or way stations along the way in Iraq, is directed at getting people out of the extreme hardship of the mountain regions to places where they can more easily get assistance. Q Do we have an idea of how many of these people who are returning are returning to places outside the area occupied by allied troops? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Are there substantial numbers going outside? MR. BOUCHER: I just don't know, Saul. Q Kurdistan extends well beyond -- MR. BOUCHER: I asked about that. I really just don't have that information at this point. Q Some Kurdish leaders have asked for military protection in Dohuk before they move back there. Has there been any kind of decision to extend that security? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, the situation around Dohuk remains where it was yesterday. Dohuk is not now located within the security area and multinational forces are not operating within the city of Dohuk. Q Do we plan to change that? MR. BOUCHER: At this point, anything is possible, but this is where we are right now. Q What about the status of Iraqi forces in and around Dohuk? Have they essentially cleared out of there now? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have a precise update on that. I think I saw further reports that said that there were forces withdrawing, but I don't know if they're gone. Q Do you have a better handle on how far the coalition forces plan to go in protecting areas in the north? You sort of have been asked this question everyday and everyday the State Department does not have an answer. Is this still the case? MR. BOUCHER: Everyday, John, I think the answer is what it has been. And that is that we are undertaking an effort that provides assistance to people where they are and where they need the assistance. We've been reporting to you everyday on camps that have been set up, on new ways of delivering relief to people. I'm telling you today about 10 different way stations that have been set up to serve the populations that are on the move, the people that are looking for help as they try to go home. That's what our effort is devoted to. So I can't tell you how much this will eventually lead to, because it will be based on the needs of the refugees and where the refugees are and what they need in terms of where they want to go. Q Or how long American forces, or coalition forces, will have to stay occupying a section of northern Iraq. You have no idea of how many -- MR. BOUCHER: Again, that's not something I can give you a precise estimate on. It's based on, first of all, the needs of the refugees; and second of all, the ability of the United Nations to take over the operation. We have said that our presence is temporary, and I'd just have to stick to that. Q Well, the situation on the ground seems to run pretty far ahead of what you're able to willing to say. For example, on the question of Dohuk, the understanding on the ground is that they are going to move in there. It's a matter of time. MR. BOUCHER: Bill, I'm not about to announce things until they're decided. It's something that's being discussed. It's obviously in the air -- something that people are looking at -- but I don't have a decision to announce for you. Q Richard, from what you said -- if that's the philosophy that we go where the need is -- if, therefore, the refugees go beyond Dohuk or elsewhere in Kurdistan, do we intend to follow? MR. BOUCHER: That would be pure speculation on my part to start making predictions like that. I just told Bill I wasn't going to go beyond what we've done. We're dealing with people where they are. We're delivering the assistance where they are. I'm not going to make predictions. Q But we're not, as a matter of policy, going to deal with people where they might wish to go? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, it depends on the needs of the refugees and where we can best deliver the assistance. There are a whole variety of things done to bring assistance to these people, whether it's the Iranians working on their side of the border or the Turks, us and others working on the Turkish side of the border, the U.N. working throughout Iraq based on their agreements with Baghdad. The important thing is that people get the assistance they need. Q But there's a difference between what's happening on the Iranian side and what's happening on the Turkish side. We're providing military protection. On the Iranian side, they're providing aid, comfort. We're providing military protection which is something different. I want to find out how far the military protection is going to extend geographically. Will it extend as far as -- is the philosophy to follow the Kurds where they go and where they need the military protection? We're talking about military protection. I'm not talking about (inaudible) and blankets and food. MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I'm not going to make predictions. I'm not going to speculate on what's going to have to happen to take care of these people next. Q Richard, yesterday, you talked about the blankets shipped to Iran. I wonder if your statement from this podium had any effect on the second shipment, whether there's any development you can tell us about? MR. BOUCHER: There is nothing new on that. We continue to provide the assistance to the international organizations that are operating in Iran. But we don't have anything new for you on a second flight. Q Was there any response to what you said here yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of. The Iranians haven't asked us to take back the blankets or anything like that. Q Richard, in addition to way stations, do you have anything on reported plans to evacuate many people from the Iraqi-Turkish border with a variety of kinds of transportation, including helicopters? MR. BOUCHER: I don't quite know what you're asking about because this is something that has been going on. We've been providing transportation down to Zakhu. The first step, I think, was the new camp that the Turks were setting up where we provided transportation in a variety of forms to people to get off the mountainside and go down to these more stable locations where we could deliver the services better. Q There was a story from the region this morning that a much bigger effort could get underway within a week? MR. BOUCHER: I didn't see the story so I'm afraid I don't know exactly what we're commenting on. But that kind of thing is something that we have been doing. Q Do you have any report about the U.S. and world private organizations which are helping the Iraqi people inside Iraq with humanitarian relief? Do you have a rundown on these organizations or groups? MR. BOUCHER: You mean the list of the private organizations that are involved? Q Yes. MR. BOUCHER: I don't have such a list with me. I 'll see if we can get something. We've been working with a lot of organizations. Q New topic? Q Can I stay on this for just a second? Back to the Iranian blankets. Can you just tell us what the status is of U.S. contacts with the Government of Iran? Is this all still being done through a third party -- even the contacts on the humanitarian assistance? MR. BOUCHER: That's right. Q There have been no direct U.S.-Iranian contacts? MR. BOUCHER: The only direct U.S.-Iranian contacts we have are in the context of The Hague talks. Q Any additional flights planned? Q Are they continuing, by the way? MR. BOUCHER: When did we last -- the end of March, we last had a team out there to talk about it. I haven't heard of anything since then. I'll check to make sure that's right. Q Any additional --

[Turkish Relief Efforts]

Q The Kurdish refugees: Do you have any reaction to the decision of the Turkish government to expel a British journalist? And also on the growing criticism by the Western media and the mistreatment of the refugees by the Turkish military? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything specific on the journalist. I think overall, on the question of Turkey, I think we've seen from the beginning that they've assumed a pre-eminent role in assisting the displaced Iraqis fleeing Saddam's repression. The Turkish government, military, and Red Crescent Society were already assisting these people before the international assistance started materializing. In many instances, assistance in this poorest region of Turkey was provided by villagers who had very little themselves. Turkey has been one of the largest donors to the displaced Iraqis at a cost of over $90 million for the month of April alone, we are told. In addition, the Turks have moved 40,000 to 60,000 of the most vulnerable people to the Turkish-built camp near Silopi. We think that Turkey is cooperating fully with the United States, U.N. agencies, and private voluntary organizations in the intensive relief effort now underway. Q Just one more clarification. You said that how long the coalition forces stay in northern Iraq and what they do, how far they go, is based on the needs of the refugees, among other things. That sounds to me like the needs of the refugees are to get all Iraqi forces out of the entire northern part of the region where they have been living. It seems somewhat inconsistent to say that the needs of the refugees are guiding how long and how far we go? MR. BOUCHER: John, I was referring to the needs of the refugees in terms of how best to deliver the assistance to them. That is something that we are doing. There are many other organizations involved. I think you've heard us speak many times about wanting the U.N. to take over as quickly as possible. We've said many times that our presence there is temporary in view of establishing these programs so that we can then turn them over to the U.N. Q Richard, new subject. Q The same subject. Any additional flights planned to Iran by the United States? MR. BOUCHER: I think I just answered that a few minutes ago and said that there's nothing new on that. Q Have they requested any? MR. BOUCHER: I think we've reported in the last few days about how we were discussing the possibility; that there were some details under discussion. I don't have anything new for you on that. Q Has the United States and the Soviet Union settled their final differences on CFE? MR. BOUCHER: Let me check and get you something on that. I think there was a Tass item just before I came in here about a meeting that (Jack) Matlock had with the Soviets. I don't have a readout of that, so I want to check before I try to answer the question.

[USSR: Shevardnadze Meeting]

Q Another question -- sort of Soviet-related. Can you give us a readout at all of Shevardnadze's meeting with the Secretary yesterday? Specifically, whether Secretary Baker may have been persuaded by Shevardnadze's arguments on credits, and whether or not the State Department had any reaction to Shevardnadze's suggestion that there might be international sanctions against parties in the Middle East who don't negotiate? MR. BOUCHER: Let me handle the first part of the question: "Can you give us any readout at all?" That's one I can deal with. Yes, the Secretary and Shevardnadze talked for about 2 hours yesterday. They discussed the Middle East; they discussed arms control; they discussed food credits. Shevardnadze also provided a rather extensive briefing on the internal situation in the Soviet Union. As for the specific issue of the food credits, I think you remember the President discussed this last week. But at present, the request remains under review. Q Can you tell us, though, what the Secretary's position on this is? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Richard, you said they discussed the Middle East and arms control. Did they discuss arms control in the Middle East? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know. Q What about the second -- the sanctions? MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any answer on that. I just don't know. I'm sorry. Q (Inaudible) MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we -- Q Can we attempt to get an answer on it? Q Is it the State Department's view that Mr. Shevardnadze's briefing on, or discussion of Middle East and arms control issues is, shall we say, at the forefront or right at the cutting edge of where developments stand in the Soviet Union? Is it the U.S. position that he is fully briefed on the status of those discussions? MR. BOUCHER: I really can't give you a U.S. position on that. You can ask him if he's fully briefed. I think he did have on the Middle East -- he talked to Bessmertnykh and knew pretty much where we were based on the Secretary's briefings for Bessmertnykh and the meetings with him. As for the other issues, I don't know what sort of brief he had. But we've always said that we thought his views were interesting and needed to be taken into account. Q That's why I was asking, as to whether you were essentially seeking his views or whether these views, that he is expressing, whether the U.S. considers his views to be in some way reflective of those of the Soviet Union's government? MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can go beyond saying that he's obviously well informed and we're interested in his views.

[Middle East Peace Process]

Q Do you have anything on when the Secretary will meet with Bessmertnykh? The Egyptians are saying it will be in Cairo on Sunday? MR. BOUCHER: No. We're still working on the schedule. The meeting with Bessmertnykh is something that I don't have anymore details for you on today. Q Do you have anymore details on the schedule, in general? MR. BOUCHER: The first two stops will be Dasmascus and Cairo. Again, he's leaving late Friday. They'll go to Dasmascus first. They expect a meeting with President Assad on Sunday. Sunday, he will travel onto Cairo. In Cairo on Monday, he would meet with President Mubarak. That's about where I stop in terms of giving you specifics. We said yesterday he would also be going to Israel and Jordan. Of course, we always reserve the right to change the schedule, add stops, make modifications in anything we've just told you because we're still working on the schedule with the governments involved. Q Still on the Soviet Union. Do you have anything on the reports about the second radar position being build to replace the one at Krasnoyarsk? MR. BOUCHER: The anti-ballistic missile treaty, the ABM Treaty, allows large phased-array radars, know as LPARS, on the periphery of a country and oriented outward. At this point, I can't tell you whether this other radar would constitute one under the treaty. It depends on when -- how it's built, what it's configurations are. The Soviet Union, of course, admitted in 1989 that the radar located near Krasnoyarsk is in violation of the ABM Treaty, and they have agreed to dismantle it and they're in the process of doing so. Q Richard, are you concerned about the construction of this radar? Has it been discussed? Was it raised in Matlock's meeting today? MR. BOUCHER: I told you I don't have a readout of Matlock's meeting today, so that's a question I obviously don't have an answer to. We are well aware of the requirements of the ABM Treaty. We have a body called the Standing Consultative Commission that meets regularly to discuss ABM compliance issues. We'll of course be following any developments in this area, and, if we have concerns, we'll raise them with the Soviets through that appropriate body. Q But you can't say now that you have a concern? You're just sort of reporting the facts. MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you a definitive reading on how this radar fits against the treaty. Q Richard, certainly you can tell us, though, whether by virtue of location it is a violation or some problem? I mean, the treaty is very clear on that point. MR. BOUCHER: The treaty is very clear. It's both the question of the location on the periphery of the country and oriented outward. Q What are you saying? You have no problem -- MR. BOUCHER: So it depends on the location and the orientation of the radar. Q And you're saying you have no problem with the location, but you can't say that perhaps some other characteristics -- MR. BOUCHER: I'm not trying to define it one way or the other at this point. I just can't. Q Just to clarify, you said that you weren't able to report on Matlock's meeting. Has this issue been raised -- discussed with the Soviets at all at any level in recent weeks? MR. BOUCHER: It depends what you call "this issue." I mean Krasnoyarsk has certainly been discussed repeatedly, and the whole issue of radars and what is permitted -- Q Construction of a new radar. Has the question of the construction of a new radar in the Soviet Union -- MR. BOUCHER: The Komsomol Radar. I'll have to look at that and see if that specifically has come up. Q The question is whether the U.S. has requested information about Soviet plans for orienting the radar when it's constructed. That's the question. MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to ask. Q Richard, now that Ambassador Armitage is back, has a decision been made whether to continue the base talks with the Philippines? MR. BOUCHER: I don't really have anything new on that since the statement that was issued at the end of Armitage's last discussions. Q And he was coming back for consultations. Have those consultations taken place? MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to check on that, Jim. I don't know.

[Czechoslovakia: Arms Sales]

Q Richard, is there anything new on the Czechoslovak arms sales to Syria? MR. BOUCHER: In March and April, Ambassador Black made demarches to Czechoslovak authorities in Prague, asking that Czechoslovakia not sell arms to Iran and Syria. Ambassador Black repeated that message in a meeting at the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry yesterday. Q (Inaudible) -- in that meeting. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know, Ralph, what their response was in that meeting. I think they're being quoted on the wires as saying they haven't made a final decision. Q A follow-up, please. Has this been raised with the Syrian authorities? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. Q Do you expect it to be raised during the talks with Secretary Baker? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know. Q According to one report I read, we're making objection because we've suggested to them that we do not sell arms to "terrorist states." Are we making the objections on the selling of arms to the Middle East or the selling of arms to Syria and Iran? Do you know? MR. BOUCHER: We do not sell arms to terrorist states because of legislation and policy. We are conveying those same concerns about these kinds of sales to them. Q But, you know, they may have a different view of what is or is not a terrorist state, and I don't know that they have a list of terrorist states. But are we objecting to the sale of arms to the Middle East as a matter of principle, or are we objecting to this sale because they're going to Iran and Syria? MR. BOUCHER: In this case, we're asking that Czechoslovakia not sell arms to Iran and Syria. Q So that means that if they wanted to sell it to somebody else who's not on the terrorist list, it's O.K.? MR. BOUCHER: I can't give blanket approval like that from this podium, Saul. I'm sure that any time we were asked about our views of arms sales to particular countries, we would provide them. Q Well, the reason I ask that is because when we made the suggestion to the Czechs a long time ago when Havel was here, he was saying that they were going to end their arms industry, if they could. And we agreed with that and applauded that, and we said that again the other day, and I'm now wondering -- because we sell arms all over the world -- whether we're opposing the sale of arms in general by Czechoslovakia or the sale of arms to Iran and Syria. Apparently the latter. MR. BOUCHER: In this case, we're objecting -- we don't think it's a good idea to sell arms such as these to Iran and Syria -- or arms to Iran and Syria. Let me not put a new loophole in there. The question of general arms sales is, of course, a much broader question that we have views on as well that the Secretary has discussed and others have as well. Q But one final thing, have we also sent any word through any third party to people who have been sending Scuds to Syria? I don't recall that we did. I think we raised some concern about it, but I'm not sure that we did. MR. BOUCHER: I'd have to go back and see. That's been discussed before. I just don't remember where we left it. I'll have to check. Q You said the U.S. would be glad to make its views known when anybody asks about sales of arms. Did the Czech government ask Ambassador Black yesterday in the meeting what the U.S. view was of a potential sale, or did the United States in March, April and then again yesterday raise this issue of its own? MR. BOUCHER: The issue of arms sales has been one of discussion between us and the Czechs, going back to their earlier decisions to restrict arms sales as much as they can. So these more specific discussions grew out of that. Q Did they take up the offer for U.S. experts on converting arms factories into civilian factories? MR. BOUCHER: We're in the process of making arrangements with them for a Department of Defense led team on defense conversion to visit Czechoslovakia this summer in order to share expertise, but the arrangements haven't been finalized. Q Richard, is this a kind of continuation or expansion of Operation Staunch? MR. BOUCHER: I really don't know if it's related to that at all. Q Will you take the question? MR. BOUCHER: This has been related specifically to our views of the advisability -- our views against selling arms to Iran and Syria at this point. Q Because this time you are putting Syria with Iran together -- somehow. I don't know why. MR. BOUCHER: As Margaret said the other day when she explained it the first time, this is related to our view of states that support terrorism. Q A related question: Has Kimmitt raised the same question with the Chinese, and do you have a readout on that or response? MR. BOUCHER: Kimmitt gave a press conference in Beijing -- this morning Beijing time; last night our time -- and we'll get you a transcript of that as soon as we have a complete text. Q Is the United States suggesting to the Chinese government that the U.S. will be willing to continue most-favored-nation status for another year? MR. BOUCHER: I think I'd rather leave that to the transcript of what Mr. Kimmitt said in Beijing. Q Richard, do you have a readout on the meeting of six Israeli members of the Parliament with Thomas Pickering, the United Nations Ambassador yesterday? MR. BOUCHER: No. I'm afraid I don't. Q And are they going to be visiting here in Washington at the State Department -- six members of the Israeli opposition? MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You might check with the Israeli Embassy on this schedule. Q But they met with Mr. Pickering yesterday, and they had some statements about that. Do you have any more readouts? MR. BOUCHER: I'll see if we can get you a readout.

[Bangladesh: US Relief Efforts]

Q Do you have anything new on Bangladesh today? Yesterday, I believe you said that -- MR. BOUCHER: We were looking at some new aid. Q -- there was lots of food there, but now there's reports of four million at risk because of starvation. MR. BOUCHER: What I said yesterday was that there were some other requests, urgent additional assistance that was being looked at. Today I can tell you that responding to a request from the Government of Bangladesh, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is authorizing an additional $5 million in direct grants to non-governmental organizations to assist the cyclone victims in Bangladesh. The funds will be used for procurement and distribution of critically needed items such as oral rehydration salts, water purification tablets, food, shelter materials and cooking utensils, as well as for damage assessment and administrative support. In addition to these immediate needs, we are looking into ways we can contribute to near-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of the areas most affected. Our mission in Bangladesh intends to reprogram an additional $2 million in funds already in-country for the rehabilitation efforts. We are also in the process of locating additional disaster relief supplies that are positioned at U.S. Government facilities around the world, including food and medicine. Q What happened to the helicopters? MR. BOUCHER: There have been some helicopters that have arrived from sources closer to Bangladesh. Supplying helicopters is an option that we are working on urgently, but our main objective is to make the most constructive overall contribution that we can. Q Forgive me, Richard, how urgent is "urgent"? You gave me that answer yesterday, and the Bangladeshis are still saying that helicopters from the United States would be the answer to getting stuff out there. When you're looking at something urgently, surely 24 hours/36 hours, in a situation like this does make a critical difference. MR. BOUCHER: And we are making decisions. Twenty-four hours ago I didn't have an additional $5 million from OFDA and $2 million in-country that I was providing to the effort, and today I do. The substantial transportation assets do exist in the country. There are boats that can be mobilized, and part of the $5 million that I announced will be available for logistic support to distribute the relief to the victims of the disaster by truck and boat. So, again, going back to what I said, our concern is to make the most constructive contribution that we can overall. Q Is there a fight between State and DoD on this, mainly because DoD is telling the press and Bangladesh that they would be willing to provide helicopters? MR. BOUCHER: No. Q Is there any -- I know the history of Pakistan and Bangladesh is not a particularly joyful one, but they have lots of military hardware that we helped give them. Do you know if any help is coming from Pakistan in terms of helicopters? They have lots of helicopters. MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. You'd have to ask them.

[Lebanon: US Travel Warning; Taif Accords]

Q Richard, excuse me if you have been asked this question before about the warning on Lebanon, the new one issued on 26th of April. It looks to me at least paradoxical to the developments inside Lebanon, because you know now the militias are delivering their arms and all that. So it seems that the government is more in control than before. So why the warning anew? MR. BOUCHER: The warning? What are you referring to? Q There is a warning -- travel advisory warning on Lebanon, extending the old one that was issued in, I think, October 1990. MR. BOUCHER: Yes. I think you'll see a paragraph at the end that says that that updates some of the addresses. If I remember, that's the only change in that. The situation that we deal with in travel advisories is that based on our estimates of the security situation there, and I don't think it needs much thought to remind you that there are still Americans being held hostage in Beirut. Q On the same thing, do you have any comments on the developments inside Lebanon, delivering of militias arms to the government and all that? MR. BOUCHER: The same comments as we made before: We support the Taif Accords. We support the extension of the legitimate authority of the Lebanese government.

[Yugoslavia: Civil Unrest]

Q Richard, do you have any reaction to the situation in Yugoslavia? MR. BOUCHER: We have spoken, I think, many times before about the situation in Yugoslavia, and it's something that we are following closely, and it has been of obvious concern to us. At the present day, I'm told that yesterday the Yugoslav military announced that it was mobilizing certain units and raising its state of alert, so that it could secure peace in the event federal and republic organs fail to do so. The military statement also asserted that Yugoslav as a society has "embarked upon a civil war." The Yugoslav military statement does fall short of a declaration of martial law or a state of emergency, but it implies that the military will seek wider authorities from the Federal Presidency. There's an expanded session of the Federal Presidency that began this morning in Belgrade, involving both Federal and Republic leaders, and this may be still underway even as we speak. As for the U.S. position, I believe it's pretty clear. It's one that's shared by other countries, including the European Community. We support a democratic, unified Yugoslavia achieved through peaceful dialogue. We condemn the use of violence as a means of achieving political goals or of undermining the process of peaceful democratic dialogue. As we've stated repeatedly, both publicly and in our diplomatic exchanges in Yugoslavia, we are strongly opposed to the use of force for intimidation or to block democratic change or to impose a non-democratic system in Yugoslavia. We are following the present situation closely. We will take appropriate steps to underscore our support for the rule of law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and full respect for human rights in a democratic, unified Yugoslavia as well as our strong opposition to the use of force by any party. Q Richard, if some of the Republics in Yugoslavia democratically decide they don't want unity, does the United States support democracy or unity? MR. BOUCHER: We support a democratic, unified Yugoslavia achieved through peaceful dialogue, and anything else that you want to speculate on, I'll leave to you. Q But it does seem an impossibility, though. What will you settle for? MR. BOUCHER: That's what's called a hypothetical -- (laughter) -- and I'm going to tell you -- Q (Multiple questions.) Q Actually, a democratic, unified Yugoslavia may be hypothetical. Q Seriously, it's not hypothetical at all. They had an election in Slovenia. They've had elections in Croatia. And the people in those republics have expressed their wishes by electing governments which are now committed to independence. What's hypothetical about it? MR. BOUCHER: The process has not brought us to that point. We support a unified, democratic Yugoslavia. Q Do you support peaceful negotiations between the various republics of Yugoslavia to determine their own future? MR. BOUCHER: That we support as well. Q Even if that future should include a peaceful division of the country? MR. BOUCHER: We'll have to see what it leads to, Alan. I'm not going to deal with a hypothetical at this point. Q Do you support the army's characterization that this country is now in civil war? MR. BOUCHER: That's not something that I can really characterize for you. We understand, as far as the situation on the ground in Croatia, for example, that it's somewhat calmer today, but that it still remains quite tense. Q Richard, do you have any comment on the independent British daily newspaper report of yesterday that Palestinians in Kuwait are still subjected to torture and beating despite the reports to the contrary? MR. BOUCHER: That is something that we've spoken about on many occasions. We've expressed our concerns. We've said that such incidents are still being reported, although they are contrary to government policy, and we've said that the government has taken several positive and specific steps to try to get the situation under control.

[Israel: Arab League Boycott]

Q Richard, do you have any more to say today than you did yesterday about the Arab League action on the boycott? There are some more details that have come out that make me wonder whether you have more to say. MR. BOUCHER: I addressed it yesterday at the briefing. We also addressed it in an answer yesterday afternoon. I think it was more extensive about some of the different views on the boycott. I think what I have here is a summary, but I'd be glad to give it to you. We have certainly urged the Arab countries not to comply with the boycott regulations. This has been a subject raised by the Secretary on his recent trips to the region, but we will not be highlighting evidence of non-compliance unless the Arab countries themselves choose to do so. In our answer of yesterday afternoon, we noted what Kuwaiti officials have said on the subject. We hope and expect that we will see further evidence that Arab governments see, as we do, that the boycott has no place in a process of reconciliation and dialogue. Q Do you want them to stand up and say, "We do not support the boycott"? Is that what you're urging out of all of that morass of words? MR. BOUCHER: We have urged the countries not to comply with the boycott, so we don't think -- Q You don't care whether they -- MR. BOUCHER: -- continuation is helpful. Q I mean, wouldn't it be helpful to the cause that the United States is campaigning for to have them stand up in public and say, "We are not going to abide by the boycott, and we think it's a bad idea for other countries to do so as well." MR. BOUCHER: I'm sure that would be helpful, John, but we're not going to try to offer details of individuals countries' practices, unless they choose to do so themselves. Q Richard, on a second look at that boycott issue, it appears that what the Arab League did is take four major American companies off the list, including Coca-Cola and Helene Curtis. And of the 110 companies they put on the list, 104 belonged to Robert Maxwell. I'm wondering if on a second look at that, you saw something more positive in the Arab League announcement than was first seen? MR. BOUCHER: Saul, I really can't analyze the specific steps of yesterday for you, or that we were talking about yesterday. They've been reported, as you say, in different ways by different analysts. I don't have an analysis of those specific steps. What we are dealing with is our position on the boycott in general and it's continuation. Q Richard, you said you hope and expect that more Arab governments, in addition to Egypt, will start seeing the boycott issue the way the United States does. What leads you to that expectation? MR. BOUCHER: The point is that it's something that we've been raising, that the Secretary has discussed, that we've discussed consistently with other governments. We gave you a rundown of the various positions that have been taken by some governments on the boycott yesterday afternoon, and it is our hope that those positions of non-compliance or changes in compliance will be evidenced by other governments as well. Q But you voice the expectation. What leads you to that? MR. BOUCHER: I would just have to go back to the sort of evidence that we reported on yesterday afternoon. Q Did the Secretary get any commitments or any understandings during his recent trips? MR. BOUCHER: That's not something I can tell you, Mark. I don't know. Q Thank you. (The briefing concluded at 1:22 p.m.)